A Schedule that Fits... ME

August 28, 2013

Random Thoughts on Developing a Schedule that Fits

It’s been a while since I have been “under employed”. This time, it is deliberate. When I ended my last contract, I chose to not pursue new opportunities right away, because

*It’s the middle of summer!

*I have numerous personal/business projects that have not had enough care and feeding

While on this kick, working exclusively for myself, I have gotten back to a schedule that fits my life. I intend to keep it that way. These are the keys to my new and improved schedule, that fits ME.

I’m not a morning person, and never will be. Don’t get me wrong, I always knew this. But I keep reading all these so-called life-hacks, where they tell me that I need to ignore my email, and the “little stuff”, and get to work on my important projects FIRST THING in the morning. Hogwash. My brain doesn’t fire on all cylinders first thing in the morning. I use my mornings to catch up on the Inbox (not deal with it all, just get rid of the fluff, and flag the stuff that needs actual work for later). And I catch up on Twitter/Facebook. And I drink my coffee. I eat my breakfast (thanks to Lift app I’m on a 21 day streak there). I open my snail-mail. I do most of this from my iPad, and the location varies. If it’s nice out, I can sit out on the patio. If not, it’s the comfy couch.

Once I’m done all that, I go to my desk and my computer. Clutter takes away from my focus, so I deal with the bills and things (like the opened mail). Flip quickly thru my flagged email to see if anything urgent needs to get done today. Open up Things (task management app) and review my task list for Today. I’m getting really good at recognizing “Whoa, too many things”, and brutally cutting/de-prioritizing. Review my 30x500 weekly action sheet, and make sure I am making the progress I want to make (adding stuff to Things as needed) on my personal projects.

Depending on what time it is (still morning, maybe not), I’ll start tackling annoying stuff on my Things list, stuff that I know needs doing today, and will only take 10-30 minutes to finish. I think of it as “clearing the decks”. Because, when lunch rolls around, I want to be in a position to be finished what I’ve started.

I’ve also started working out again. It’s been almost 8 months since I worked out regularly. Just before lunch has been a good time for me to hang that habit. Also, if I don’t do it then, I have another window of opportunity at the end of my work day, before supper. If I was just doing it before supper, I know I’d get busy, “in the groove”, and fail to stop in time to work out. Having 2 windows makes it that much easier to get it done. I’m also tracking that habit in Lift app. It’s been a 10 days of regular workouts, with no “oops, I missed”. And it feels great. (And I’ve almost caught up on my Ruby Tapas videos!)

Ok, now it’s afternoon, I’ve cleared the decks, worked out, eaten lunch. I am FULL of energy. Yes, the afternoon is MY prime time. That’s when I can tackle the meaty hard tasks that require intense thinking. And the important stuff that I know is just going to take hours. Because I have hours and hours of uninterrupted time. And I get shit done. Lots of it. Because I have the focus and the time. If I am on a roll, I can just keep working as long as I want. Generally speaking, that isn’t all night. Or even all evening. Eventually I’ll get tired, or hungry, and start losing focus. That’s when it’s time to quit. Sometimes, my dog tells me it’s time to quit. He’s surprisingly good at that.

If I have encountered problems or blockers in my afternoon of work, I’ll spend time in the evening surfing and researching on my iPad, looking for answers. I can do that while tired, sitting on the comfy couch. Trying to continue working/focusing while tired has generally been a recipe for frustration, so I resist doing it.

So there you have it. A schedule that fits ME. I think that in order to develop a schedule that fits YOU, you need some time free of outside influence. Those pressures that tell you when you “should” be doing your work, and when you “should” be reading your email. And, of course, you need to have a pile of work that needs to get done, so you don’t just fritter the time away.

It’s been an interesting 3 weeks. One more to go, then I’ll probably need to get back to a new contract (or two or three). This time, though, now that I have a schedule that really fits, I will be resistant to the pressures to conform to other’s schedules, and stick to the one where I am most productive and happy.